Youth in Chestermere will have the chance to tear up the blacktop Sept. 14, at Lake Ridge Community Church’s (LRCC) annual soapbox derby, from 12 to 3 p.m. at Rainbow Falls Link.
The “Lake Ridge Classic,” now in its fifth year, will see dozens of participants ranging from age three to 13 race soapbox cars down the sloped track.
“It’s a kids-and-family event for the community to just come out and have a lot of fun doing something creative,” said LRCC Pastor Evan Dewald. “They get to race cars, whether it’s their cars or one of ours, and they get to know other people in the community.”
Dewald, who has organized the soapbox derby since its inaugural year, said the initial motivation behind the event was to bring back a classic children’s activity.
“Soapbox racing was a real thing for kids,” he said. “It kind of lost part of its appeal with our change of culture and that kind of thing.”
Teaching children how to build something from scratch was another motivation, he added.
“Honestly, for me, I love to build things, so part of it was thinking how I could use my passion for building things and teach kids how to build their own thing and be proud of it,” Dewald said.
The soapbox cars are constructed from kits, Dewald said, which LRCC orders from a company in Winnipeg, Man. While the cars do not have an engine, they do come with a steering wheel assembly system and other components that need to be built.
Once completed, the cars measure four-feet long by 22-inches wide. For kids who do not have their own soapbox car, Dewald said, LRCC has eight cars that can be borrowed.
“That’s worked out – it’s created an opportunity for more kids to get involved,” he said.
In order to keep the races fair, participants compete in three age categories – ages three to seven, eight to 11 and 12 plus. All racers must wear helmets.
Dewald said one of the benefits of the Lake Ridge Classic is the sense of neighbourly interaction the event instills.
“That’s one of values we encourage, whether it’s supporting the block party program, the soapbox event or other events like that,” he said. “We are always trying to figure out ways people in the community can meet other people in their community.”
Last year, 45 kids raced in the soapbox derby, according to Dewald. This year, he added, 45 kids are already signed up, as of Sept. 4, and he is expecting more than 60 to take part if the weather is nice.
While the event is tailored to kids, Dewald said many parents get just as involved and excited.
“A lot of adults get behind it too, because it reminds them or brings back a piece of their youth,” he said. “It wakes up the kid in everybody, and it’s just a fun event to be a part of.”
For more information or to pre-register, visit lakeridgecommunity.com. The cost is $20, and registration is open until the day of the event, according to Dewald.